WEDNESDAY 12.1

Freelance Whales

7th St. Entry

Freelance Whales have an air of goodwill hovering about them, a disarming sweetness that gives their brand of indie pop a mood-altering quality. It might have kept the band safe; scouring Craigslist for potential band members and busking on New York subway platforms both might seem like risky ventures, but the Whales have managed to turn the odds in their favor with melodies that keep the cold out, wrapping you in the homey warmth of gently picked banjo and vintage synthesizer. Each of the five group members sing and switch instruments constantly throughout their set, but it doesn't feel like showing off—the band isn't aggressive enough to push your face in their talent—it's simply a product of a heavily layered sound, where each piece has a rightful place. Their recorded material feels far more subdued than their live show, where the group's appreciation for the attention they're currently receiving is palpable, energizing both the Whales and their audience. They're aiming to be adored, and hitting their target dead-on. With Miniature Tigers. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Ian Traas

Superchunk

Andrew Bird brings his intricate indie ballads to First Ave
Cameron Wittig
Andrew Bird brings his intricate indie ballads to First Ave

First Avenue

When the late Might magazine published a satirical profile of the "late" Adam Rich in 1996, the writers stumbled upon a fitting encapsulation of a certain Chapel Hill, North Carolina, band's exorcism-by-volume aesthetic; one of Rich's supposed "top 10 moving tips" was "Just turn on some Superchunk, throw your stuff in a box, and move it!" In its brilliantly noisy heyday, the 'Chunk were all about throttle and velocity, ecstasy-as-pathos eruptions of frustration narrated by perpetual-teen yelper Mac McCaughan, disguised as fist-pumping indie rock that ex-Nirvana fans could slip into their thrash/puke party playlists; 1995's Here's Where the Strings Come In remains the gold standard for cross-country relationship soundtracks. As the mid-'90s became the late '90s and the band aged, their albums lost some of their angst-y edge. Thankfully, a much-needed hiatus ensued—McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance run indie-royalty label Merge Records—and Superchunk emerged earlier this year with the don't-call-it-a-comeback wallop of Majestry Shredding, which (somehow) bests everything that came before it. Yep, even "Slack Motherfucker"—and scream-along classic Incidental Music. So it stands to reason that this show will probably annihilate your week, in a good way. If you go. Which is a total no-brainer. Right? 18+. $18. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Ray Cummings

THURSDAY 12.2

Tribute to Mikey "Eyedea" Larsen

Station 4

It took a large wake in St. Paul and a memorial concert at First Avenue for many fans of Michael "Eyedea" Larsen to realize they would be grieving and processing for some time, not just remembering in one frenzied night and moving on. The number, size, and quality of Eyedea memorials since his death on October 16 speak to the impact he had across the Twin Cities music community, not just as a member of Eyedea & Abilities, Face Candy, and Carbon Carousel but as a person. Mikey pushed those around him to be better, say his Rhymesayers family, and it shows. Tonight's memorial benefit at Station 4 brings the remembrances closer to Larsen's home neighborhood near downtown St. Paul, with a suggested donation of $7-10 at the door benefiting Larsen's family, and another dollar for every drink sold going to the memorial fund. Performers include Sensory Motel, Sota Boys, Eden, Elliott Graber, Conner Allen, Murphey's Midnight Rounders, and special surprise guests. 21+. 8:30 p.m. 201 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 651.298.0173. Peter S. Scholtes

Andrew Bird

First Avenue

For an artist so revered by the indie community, Andrew Bird doesn't seem to care much about rock 'n' roll. His list of influences doesn't include any trendy touchstones or major players along the wide spectrum of pop—Bird writes music that feels like his alone. He's not beholden to anyone else's sound, which allows his prodigious talent to manifest itself in ways that sound fresh even as they utilize rustic elements (strings, shimmering cymbals, and whistling, to name just a few). He's an auteur, but one who knows just how to connect with a crowd (it seems unwarranted to accuse him of navel-gazing), and that ability has earned him a following that believes wholeheartedly in his vision, eagerly awaiting and collecting his material like communiqués from a new world. You can hardly blame them; it's singularly exciting to watch an artist reach a certain level of uninhibited self-expression while remaining entertaining, and Bird walks that tightrope with an uncanny confidence that suggests he's only ever been interested in being himself. With Alpha Consumer. 18+. $30. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

Jenny Scheinman's Mischief and Mayhem

Walker Art Center

The dizzyingly eclectic, ever resourceful Jenny Scheinman has been a key player in the avant-garde and experimental jazz realm for more than a decade. A violinist, composer, fierce improviser, and, lately, vocalist, Scheinman moved from northern California to New York in 1999 and immediately fell in with the downtown crowd, eventually collaborating with everyone from Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, and John Zorn to Lucinda Williams and Norah Jones. After distinguishing herself as an instrumentalist, Scheinman unleashed her vocals on a surprisingly charming and effective 2008 eponymous album that included folk, blues, vintage country, and rock tunes from the likes of Williams, Jimmy Reed, Tom Waits, and Mississippi John Hurt. Scheinman's latest project is Mischief and Mayhem, an all-instrumental affair that will debut locally at the Walker and feature a virtual all-star lineup of first-call musicians with whom she's long been associated: guitarist Nels Cline (of Wilco fame), drummer Jim Black, and bassist Todd Sickafoose. The group's forthcoming album of the same name ranges from moody chamber jazz to aggressive, razor-wire, rock-fueled mayhem, all deeply layered with stray bits of Americana, Django's Hot Club, swing, and bop, and delivered with visionary intensity. All ages. $22. 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 12.3

The New Standards Holiday Concert

Fitzgerald Theater

Now in its fifth year and spanning three separate shows, the New Standards Holiday Concert has become a celebratory annual treat for local music fans. The swank confines of the Fitz are ideal for framing the group's sparse yet surprisingly rich renditions of holiday classics, with the Suburbs' Chan Poling and Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare's John Munson trading off vocal duties while masterful vibraphonist Steve Roehm crafts a shimmering, stylish backdrop for their melodies and harmonies. The trio will be joined by what is being billed only as "an orchestra of stunning guest accompanists" including "upcoming singer-songwriters to some of the most esteemed local and international rock stars to poets, dancers, and storytellers," which should make for an eclectic and highly entertaining kickoff to the frenzied holiday season. Note to families: Sunday's matinee performance is said to culminate in an appearance by St. Nicolas himself. All ages. $20-$32. 8 p.m. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul, 651.290.1200. Also Saturday and Sunday Andrea Swensson

SATURDAY 12.4

Arcwelder

7th St. Entry

While grunge was taking over everything in the mid-'90s, Minneapolis's Arcwelder chose a slightly different path. Less pop-friendly, more abrasive, and ultimately more sincere than much of what was happening nationally (on the popular front, at least), brothers Rob and Bill Graber along with Scott MacDonald crafted a volatile mix of post-punk and hardcore, putting a nice shine on it to make it enticing to a larger crowd. By rights they should have sold millions, but had the misfortune of being from the Midwest and not the gloomy Northwest. Luckily for us, they're still around, and while they haven't released any new material in more than a decade due mostly to non-band (read: real-life) commitments, they still play out every so often, and this is your chance to make things right. One night with this band will have you pitching your Melvins albums into the alley, ready to replace them not with something that mattered, but that matters still—and not in that nostalgic "They were so great when I was 16" sort of way, either. Arcwelder's live show is a stunning, tinnitus-inducing study in catharsis and is not to be missed. 18+. $6. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Pat O'Brien

Sleeping in the Aviary (CD-release)

Kitty Cat Klub

Lo-fi power-pop? Playful indie folk? Call it what you will, Sleeping in the Aviary are celebrating the release of their third record, Great Vacation!, at the Kitty Cat Klub on Saturday. The Minneapolis-by-way-of-Madison band continue to evolve their lively sound, drawing influence from 1990s slacker rock to more nuanced indie folk without sounding like either. Great Vacation! offers a continuing evolution of the band's sometimes absurd lyricism paired with big pop chops that drive the melodies. Making use of dynamic shifts and a fair share of nontraditional instrumentation—mostly from accordion player Celeste Heule—the arrangements take on a quirky, unpredictable feel that is defined by Elliott Kozel's wavering and emphatic vocals and the band's rambunctious, sing-along stage presence. With Buffalo Moon, Chelsea Boys, and Crimes. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.9800. Loren Green

MONDAY 12.6

Broken Bells

First Avenue

If you're a follower of pop music, you know that Danger Mouse can't be left to his own devices—he gets into too much trouble. After the Grey Album legal debacle that directly contributed to Mouse's fame, the bushy-haired beatsmith took on a number of collaborators, forming unlikely pairs that explored the landscapes of pop, rock, and hip hop. Working with Cee Lo Green (as Gnarls Barkley), MF Doom (as Danger Doom), and Damon Albarn (as the producer of Gorillaz's massive Demon Days) proved that Danger was truly versatile, not just another dilettante out to make a buck. March saw the debut from Broken Bells (surprise!—it's yet another duo), comprised of Danger and James Mercer, ex-frontman for indie darlings the Shins. It's a surprisingly melancholy outing for both artists, yet it still manages to maintain a convincing facade of winning hooks and big drums; the sound smiles just wide enough to hide its pain. Given how short-lived some of their other groups have been, you should catch them while you can. With Maps and Atlases. 18+. $29.50. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

KDWB's Jingle Ball

Target Center

Even without the star sass of, say, Katy Perry, this annual Top-40 revue from Clear Channel taps new hit-makers—Atlanta rapper B.o.B., the Ready Set, Taio Cruz, Enrique Iglesias, Sara Bareilles, Selena Gomez, Mike Posner, 3OH!3—at a particularly good moment for new hit-making, and with styles cross-pollinating so freely within a clearly understood template that it all really does feel like one music. (Club laser glam rock?) The sing-along hit of ball games, weddings, and school buses, Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" seems typical: overjoyed, digitized, and deeply schooled in house music. It's as if radio fell asleep on a stack of United State of Electronica CDs six years ago and woke up remembering that even rap is disco. All ages. $28.75-$101.30. 6:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Peter S. Scholtes

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Dakota Jazz Club

The son of one legend (saxophone colossus John Coltrane) and named after another (sitarist Ravi Shankar), Ravi Coltrane managed to adeptly hurdle the myriad potential pitfalls of such a legacy and established himself as one of the premier saxophonists of the post-bop era. Playing tenor and soprano like his father and assimilating his sound along with virtually every other contemporary jazz saxophonist, Ravi nevertheless has etched his own distinctive voice in both tone and temperament, and at age 45 stands highly regarded in his own right. It doesn't hurt that his lithe, invariably thoughtful negotiations of jazz's intricate eddies, flows, and cascades are accompanied by a particularly fine ensemble: pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer E. J. Strickland, all integral parts of the group's unique language and dynamics. Having overseen the legacies of his father and mother (keyboardist Alice Coltrane, who died in 1997), Ravi Coltrane is now polishing his own formidable one. He signed with Blue Note Records in August, with a new album reportedly due out next spring. $35 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Tuesday —Rick Mason

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